Archive for July, 2010

The school I teach in is under resourced. Roofs leak. There are no bulletin boards to pin up charts, just some rudimentary nails.  Walls are not plastered. Tape does not stick.

So what do we do? We use Blu Tac. Tons of it. Bang with the sides of our hands until we lose all feeling in our hands. Ok, fine, I am exaggerating. But only mildly. But seriously, can the Blue Tak guys give us free Blu Tac, please?

Every bit of wall space is vital to reinforcing learning. Here is how Sanaya does it (& amazingly well, I must add).

Sanaya Bharucha is a second year fellow of Teach for India. She teaches 4th grade in the same school that I teach in. She took up for the fellowship right after her graduation.

During a free period, I walked into the 4th grade classroom the other day, just to watch. It took me a good 15 minutes to just digest the content of learning aids in the classroom.

Here are some poor quality pictures to give you a glimpse of what Sanaya in particular and Teach for India fellows in general do to make their classrooms a great place for learning.

Welcome to Sanaya’s 4th Grade Classroom!

Rules of the Class

Usually, a mnemonic like “LEARN” is used to reinforce the rules of the class. When the teacher says “LEARN” the class knows exactly what it stands for.

Sight Words Wall

Sight word wall – Children learn to recognise & read frequently used words in english by observing their pattern repeatedly. This improves their reading fluency. Transparent sheet is cut and pasted on the wall using tons of Blue Tak. Individual words are cut out to maintain the pattern and pasted on the sheet.

Mistakes Poem

I love this poem! I read it on my first day as a teacher and I repeat this to myself every time my class bombs 🙂  But seriously, what a lovely way to reinforce the culture of trying out new things without the fear of failure!

The clock reinforces urgency, as it should

Even the small space under the clock has been used for reinforcing facts along with the lovely Super Fast => Super Smart, reinforcing that one should not waste any learning time in class.

A cute poem on How to read a clock

Mnemonics to remember seemingly simple yet sometimes confusing concepts.

The Window Facts

This tops the cake when it comes to resourcefulness! The window  is used to reinforce learning. Facts about days of the year are neatly written on the cast iron shutters. I love this! Even if the inattentive child looks out the window, he will find facts assaulting him. You cannot escape learning in this class, Guys. *Evil Laughter*

You may notice that none of these learning aids cost the earth and moon. Materials used are chart paper & Blu Tac. Very affordable & mostly re-usable. Nothing imported, nothing that is shipped from far off lands, nothing out of the world. Content is a result of focussed thinking and creativity – which the Teach for India Fellow brings into the classroom in abundance. All Fellows work within a shoe-string budget.

Thanks to Sanaya for letting me feature her classroom on the blog.


TFI Fellow 2010 Batch

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Wendy Kopp

Exactly a year after the Teach For India (TFI) campaign took off in the city, the entire team got the opportunity to interact with the woman who first introduced this concept in the US under the banner Teach For America (TFA), way back in 1989. Wendy Kopp,
CEO and founder of TFA, addressed the Fellows of the TFI campaign on Friday evening.
“It all started with an idea in my head when I was a senior in college. I was worried about the state of education in our country. In about four months of sticking fliers at various places, we got applications from 2,500 students from all over. After months of interviewing, we finally saw the first batch of 500 TFA Fellows,’’ said Kopp, who is in the city for a week.
Kopp spoke about her experiences in the past 18 years, since the first time this concept was implemented in US and the changes she sees today. “The impact on the lives of the children and the enthusiasm and leadership potential in thousands of Fellows is inspiring. All this just proves that education inequity is a solvable problem, if initiative is taken at the right time,’’ she said. ‘‘Providing transformative education is truly the challenge,’’ she said.
The current team of TFI Fellows operates at 33 schools in Mumbai and Pune and is attempting to better the education pattern for over 3,000 students. “To see other teachers trying to adopt our method of teaching is worth all our efforts,’’ said Edward Fanthone, a graduate from Delhi University.
TFI is planning to spread its campaign to Delhi this year. Those interested in applying for the 2011 Fellowship, log on to www.teachforindia.org.

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Getting kids to the front of the class has been a challenge in my class. They are very shy and by the time they get up and come to the front of the class, we have already spent some time. So, how do I get children eager to come there and face the class to read something or talk about something, in English?

A spur-of-the-moment idea has turned out to be a big hit in my class. I drew a smiley with a chalk, called it the Magic Smiley. When I call the kid to the front of the class, he/she has to stand away from the smiley and jump into it and suddenly he/she gets “English Power” :) We built so much hype and drama around this (like how you get sudden power when you acquire that ‘magic potion’ in videogames) that the kids love to do it now.

But, the funny thing is, today, when I came back to class after the lunch break, some kids had drawn many Magic Smileys on the floor and were jumping into it :) So, Bhaiya had to tell them that only Bhaiya’s Magic Smiley will work because of a special chalk :P

What I learnt is: Build hype and drama around every little thing you give them or ask them to do. Even if you are handing out test question papers, homework papers, give it first to kids who are following classrules. Making this a big deal will make kids want it badly that they will follow class rules.

About srini091

I am a Fellow of the Teach For India movement and am a Class Teacher in a Municipal School in Mumbai

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I was returning home from a TFI training session at KCT. The sight of corn on the cob attracted me and there I was standing beside the cart in no time. Roasting the corn in the coal fire was taking some time. I noticed that 2 kids were trying to help the parents keep the coal burning amidst the cold moist windy weather of Pune.

I struck up a conversation with this guy inquiring whether he sends his kids to school. The answer was in the affirmative and before long, we were discussing the benefits of a good education.

The typical story of poor-never-been-educated parent trying to educate his kids with his meager income followed. Then we thought that we would put his kindergarten daughter to test about how much English she knew. We asked the kid her name. A shy answer (after some convincing from both the parents) and then she blurted out ‘Malaika’. Her parents reacted by saying it is ‘Mallika’ but the girl stubbornly stuck with her earlier version of her name. Curious to test further(well well this reminds me of diagnostics that we had administered to our students a couple of weeks earlier), I asked her what else do you know? This time around, she was much more confidant and gave us A-Z in less than 15 seconds. When we asked her about numbers, she did 1-22 in less than 15 seconds again. Mind blowing for a low income background kindergarten student I must admit. Thinking that was the end of it, we reluctantly asked what else does she know.

To our surprise, she gave us complete versions of 2 English poems. This was nothing short of amazing. Our discussion with the father continued. We introduced ourselves as teachers of PMC schools. Meanwhile, his wife had also joined the conversation. I was explaining to them how gifted his daughter is since some of my kids in Standard 2 still can’t write A-Z. Then on further discussion, we came to know that she studies in KasturbaGandhi School in Koregaon Park. One call later with Divya and I was ecstatic to tell the parents that this was a TFI school and 2 years from now, her daughter would be in the tutelage of a TFI teacher. Her father seems to recognize Divya(She teaches in Standard 2 in that school). She was like the “gori” didi who wears salwar kameez to school everyday.

The corn was ready now. I was feeling delighted about the conversation we have had. The kid brother who was all this while busy fanning the fire was free now. His father had told us that he was all of 3 years and he would be attending school from next year. Not to be left behind, the boy started speaking loudly (and more importantly in a clear audible voice) and without even being asked, he finished A to Z in about the same time his 3 year elder sister did. Before I could recover from the sense of wonder in which I had sank in, the kid who is too young to go to school gave me the full version of “Johnny johnny yes papa” poem.

I congratulated their parents on the kids current academic levels and told them that we now see a bright future for their kids. I told them a bit about TFI and told them that if their children can continue learning at this pace, they will surely make it to Vidya Niketan when their time comes.

I just hope that the talent I saw on the roadside today wouldn’t be wasted in the coming years. I HOPE that TFI will continue the partnership with that school in the coming years. I HOPE that the TFI teacher prediction which I had made to the parents of this kid would be fulfilled.

These kids today have re-affirmed my faith about “Sense of Possibility”. Kudos to them and their parents.

Aritra De
I Teach For India
(2010 fellow)

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